Former batterymates as Marlins, Smith faced Realmuto in an epic first-inning at-bat during the Marlins' 3-1, 10-inning victory at Citizens Bank Park on Thursday. Smith ended up winning a 16-pitch battle by striking out Realmuto swinging, but not until after the All-Star catcher fouled off 10 consecutive full-count pitches.
"Here's my best stuff, hit it," Smith said. "That's basically what it was."
The suspense started on the sixth pitch, when Realmuto fouled off a changeup with the count full. With each successive foul, the crowd got a little more involved.
Smith didn’t hold anything back, mixing in 94.6 mph four-seam fastballs, changeups and sliders. Pitch No. 15 was a 92.4 mph fastball, which again was fouled off. And finally, on the 16th pitch, Smith blew a 93.7 mph heater by Realmuto.
As Realmuto headed to the dugout, he received a loud cheer.
"I thought it was really impressive, J.T.’s at-bat against [Smith]," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. "I think our fans noticed it, and I thought it was really impressive that our fans were nearly on their feet getting him through that at-bat. That was a real cool moment today."
It was the second time this season Smith has gotten the better of Realmuto in a long showdown. On April 13 at Marlins Park, the two engaged in an 11-pitch at-bat that ended with a swinging strikeout on a 2-2 pitch.
"It felt like a flashback from the first time I faced him," Smith said. "He put a good battle again. Luckily, I came out on top."
In 2018, Smith’s first season with the Marlins, he made 16 starts before undergoing season-ending surgery to repair a torn left lat. Realmuto, in his final year with Miami, caught nine of Smith’s starts.